We're at the point in the season where every loss by postseason contenders is crucial towards their playoff hopes. On Friday, the big winners were the Pirates, who beat the Cardinals 5-0 to move into a tie for the NL Central lead. In addition to the Pirates' win, the Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks all lost, giving Pittsburgh breathing room in their playoff race. Over in the AL, the A's won to pick up a game on the Rangers and also move ahead of the Rays for the AL's top wild card spot. In addition to Tampa Bay's loss, the Indians, Royals, and Orioles all lost, making Oakland the biggest winners of the evening.
PIC OF THE NIGHT
Pedro Florimon tries to make a cute flip for an out. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Day: Phillies 6, Cubs 5, Chicago led 5-0 after five, and if you know anything about Cubs baseball, you know this probably didn't end well for them. After the top of the sixth concluded, the Phillies had cut Chicago's lead to 5-4, thanks in large part to the defensive stylings of Junior Lake in center field and a surprise in the ivy. Anyway, in the seventh, the Cubs' lead disappeared after a solo homer by Kevin Frandsen. We moved to the ninth all knotted up, when the classy Michael Young singled in the go-ahead run off of professional closer Kevin Gregg. Jonathan Papelbon got three straight ground outs to Chase Utley in the ninth to end the game and give Ryne Sandberg his first managerial win at Wrigley Field.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Francisco Liriano torched the Cardinals in Pittsburgh's 5-0 win, allowing two hits over eight shutout innings, striking out six and walking a pair. Mark Buehrle outdueled Ervin Santana at Rogers Centre in Toronto's 3-2 win, giving up four hits over seven scoreless frames, walking one and punching out five. Randall Delgado pitched well for the Diamondbacks in their 1-0 loss to the Giants, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings, walking a pair and striking out three. Jered Weaver pitched great for the Angels as they topped the Brewers 5-0, giving up three hits in six shutout frames, walking three and striking out three. Julio Teheran outpitched Jose Fernandez in Atlanta's 2-1 win over Miami, allowing one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking three.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Todd Helton went off for the Rockies in their 9-6 win over the Reds, going 2/5 with a pair of homers and six RBI. Adrian Gonzalez had a good night for the Dodgers as they romped the Padres 9-2, going 2/4 with two homers and four RBI. In the Pirates' win over the Cardinals, Garrett Jones went 3/4 with a double, a homer, and four RBI. Dustin Ackley helped the Mariners beat the Astros 7-1 and get Taijuan Walker his first career win, going 4/5 with a run, four RBI, and a triple. Finally, the aforementioned Kevin Frandsen went 2/3 with two runs, a triple, and a homer.
Other Games: The Yankees topped the Orioles 8-5 to stay in the playoff race. The Mets slipped by the Nationals 3-2. The Tigers beat the Indians 7-2 in a rain-shortened seven innings. The Red Sox edged the White Sox 3-2. The Twins beat the Rangers 3-2. The A's rallied to beat the Rays 4-3.
What You Missed: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's deal with the Phillies has been revised. Michael Morse has been dealt from the Mariners to the Orioles. This week's watchability rankings. John Axford is a Cardinal. Jason Kubel is an Indian.
Today's Games: Scott Feldman starts for the Orioles in the Bronx. Jeremy Guthrie and RA Dickey will face off in Toronto. Cliff Lee gets the nod for the Phillies in Chicago. Mike Minor and the Braves host the Marlins. Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers welcome the Indians to Detroit. Lance Lynn and AJ Burnett will duel in Pittsburgh. Jake Peavy and the Red Sox host his former team, the White Sox. Matt Garza and the Rangers host the Twins. Alex Cobb and Sonny Gray will square off in Oakland.
National TV: Orioles-Yankees (1 PM, MLB Network), Royals-Blue Jays (1 PM, MLB Network), Cardinals-Pirates (7 PM, MLB Network), Indians-Tigers (7 PM, MLB Network)
MLB.tv Free Game: Mets-Nationals (7 PM)
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Lance Lynn vs AJ Burnett (Cardinals vs Pirates, 7 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.